Saturday, 2 November 2013

Angel and the Badman (1947)

After catapulting to stardom with 1939's Stagecoach, John Wayne rapidly became one of Hollywood's most bankable leading men. So much so that when he made made no effort to avoid being classified as draft eligible during World War 2, Republic Studios threatened a lawsuit for breach of contract if he were to actually join the armed forces.

In those circumstances it's perhaps unsurprising that in his later years, Wayne formed his own production company.  That didn't happen until the early 50s, but in 1947 he made his first foray into producing a film with Angel and the Badman.  It seems he had a good eye for projects, as I feel it is definitely above average for a western of the time.

Wayne also stars in the film, of course, as the handsome and dangerous loner Quirt Evans. The Angel to his Badman is a young Quaker woman, whose love eventually leads the gunslinging Evans to change his ways. If that all sounds pretty formulaic, it is, but it's deftly executed by the director/scriptwriter James Edward Grant, who would earn an Oscar nomination 12 years later for The Sheepman.

This isn't going to be a film for all tastes, however.  Despite the presence in the script of several outlaws and desperadoes, it's pretty light on action, focusing instead on the romance between Evans and his Angel.  The film also wasn't to the taste of Wayne's then-wife, who believed him to be having an affair with his co-star and attempted to shoot him when he came home late from the wrap party.  Wayne divorced her ... seven years later.

Check this one out if you're in the mood for a quieter kind of western.

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